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Who knew being a web cartoonist could be so stressful?

So, first off, our site got hacked. Missy worked like a fiend and got it running again. She is truly too good for me.

Second, Some have misread a panel in my most recent strip in such a way as to think the boss and I were having sex. I don't find this nearly as troubling as the many others who have misread that strip as me condoning, and joking about, rape.

Please let me assure you that the Boss character in no way interpreted his girlfriend's statements as anything but encouragement. The whole idea of the joke is that he doesn't understand, and if he did get even the slightest idea that she wasn't enjoying the experience he would quit immediately. He's not particularly gallant, but he's no rapist.

Anyway, I think most of you already understood this, and I don't blame those who didn't. I just felt the need to confirm that I'm not someone who finds rape even remotely funny.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

(Note, a large part of this post was copied directly from an e-mail I sent a thoughtful reader who contacted me about the rape issue directly, something you are all always welcome to do.)

Reader Comments (42)

Your comic raped me.

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBuddy13

I didn't interpret the comic that way, but I really appreciate the way you handled it. Thank you for addressing the concerns and stating clearly that rape isn't funny, and not just brushing aside the reader's questions. Thanks for being awesome, Scott.

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

It occurred to me later, while contemplating the comic, that one could read this as a rape thing. It also occurred to me that this was clearly not your intent, so I opted not to worry about it.

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Yesterday, I came to your site, expecting to find a comic. Instead I got a "Wordpress installation" page. So, I did what any other red blooded American would do. I wrote something vulgar in the title, and my e-mail address. I got one of the "approve this post?" messages. I tried to "spam it" because it was obviously spam, but I didn't have the admin password, and the forgot password page didn't recognize my e-mail address, despite it temporarily being the one that pre-moderated comments were sent to.

Most likely Missy had made some temporary, or intermediary changes to your site while she was fixing it. In the future, she might want to take the site offline before making changes, especially since your site had been hacked.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBob

As both a long time reader and a former rape victim, let me congratulate you on how you have handled this. The joke was a pun on "get off", poking fun at the boss's social ineptitude and knack for misunderstanding (frequent subjects of jokes on Basic Instructions), and I certainly do not believe you intended it otherwise. I'd just like to echo what Emily said - kudos to you for addressing readers' concerns rather than ignoring or downplaying them. While I personally didn't find the comic at all offensive, I can appreciate that others may have felt disturbed or upset, and it's great that you made a statement to clear things up.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandi

Huh. And here I had thought that rape was defined by whether or not each party had the other's consent. I'll make a note for myself, in case this should ever come up again: I'm only being harmed if HE believes he's harming me.

Yanno, the original comic bothered me, but I rationalized it away. This post, however, wherein you define rape by how the rapist conceives of himself, and thus without regard to whether or not he actually had consent... This post makes it a lot harder to rationalize away the problems in that last comic.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSanguinity

first of all: i'm sorry for my poor english skills - i was really lazy when teachers tried to teach me anything.
now. Main reason that i write is this: do i udnerstand correctly- i am welcome to write you whenever i have any issues with rape? :)

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergic

Y'know, Sanguinity has a point. But it's simply better to assume the female figure in question in the comic is a girlfriend figure of some kind who initially consented and has changed her mind due to his complete ineptitude far too late into the question. Whether that constitutes rape or not is a matter for the court; he's certainly not harming her or abusing her, merely inconveniencing her, based on her choice of language.

Is being sexually inconvenient rape? Oh god, that's beyond terrible. The slippery slope of definitions is NOT worth tumbling down here. Let's just go with "the boss is an idiot, not a rapist, and his (former) girlfriend was not harmed in any way but fairly pissed off at him as a result" and call it a day.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBobisOnlyBob

Thank you for addressing this in a thoughtful and non-trivializing manor.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlee

I never even thought of it as rape, but I could see how someone could. I think you did a wonderful job of making it better, and anyone who does not completely forgive you probably isn't welcome on this site anyway.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterI change my name regularly

Wait, let me get this straight ... you don't think it's funny if Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Sean Hannitty get gang raped by feminazi biker broads?
Neither do I.
It's justice.

I can see how Sanguinity could misinterpret your explanation, but it seemed more a trite nit-picking of your choice of words than true concern. I took you to mean that the girlfriend was not feeling violated, but disgusted as she may be from a dog overly enjoying her leg. Goss, but not scary.

I personally didn't care for that comic, but I knew what you meant. Anyone who's read BI for any length of time, or read your comments about your wife, knows that you respect women and have a balanced, non-macho view of a woman's right to her own body and space.

You are a rare find in today's world! I'm sure your wife is just as happy with you as you are with her... I hope.

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterA female fan

I hate that I have to be the humorless Debbie Downer about this. I am and remain a book-buying fan; I laughed at the comic; but between the misconceptions I see in both comment threads, and your response, I feel compelled to explain my "bad aftertaste" reaction a little more.

I think everyone gets that Mullet Guy doesn't understand that she doesn't want him to stop. The trouble is that, as Sanguinity says, that's not how "rape" is defined - and for me, the main problem comes in panel four when he says she was "shrieking."

See, if we take it that Mullet Guy's girlfriend wanted him to stop, sure, but wasn't necessarily insisting on it to the point where she would feel violated if he didn't, then it works as you intended. Sometimes, in a relationship, a person has sex when they don't really want to, but they feel it's worth it to make the other person happy, and provided that there's no coercion involved, that's not generally defined as rape. However if she disliked it so much that she was shrieking "get off," then it really crosses the line.

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHazel

I liked the comic and thought it was funny. Clearly I should have read further into it until I found the unintended and somewhat unlikely undertones that make it not funny. From now on I'll stop seeing the jokes and pedantically delve into it, clearly webcomics are for far more serious purposes than I took them to be!

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAl

Some people seem like they actually have to try to be offended by this, for whatever purpose I do not know.

The artist created the art, and told you what the art was intended to mean. Anything else you read into that says more about you than either the work or the creator.

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

I thought the comic was cathartic. The boss was pretty much exactly like the last guy I dated. Not a rapist. Just self-centered to the point he actually thought he was gallant when he was being aggravating. Not every form of being a jerk is a crime. Most times, it just means you sleep alone.

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteroccupant

Are you in the business of making funny yet awful catchphrases? It seems you might be.

"He’s not particularly gallant, but he’s no rapist."

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEptin

I found it funny; I never thought that SCOTT and Mullet Boss were having sex (EW!); what the rest of you seem to have missed is that Mullet Boss doesn't HAVE a girlfriend - all of his lady friends are one-timers... remember? They never come back for seconds!
So, hmm... I guess he is a rapist. Scott, have you checked the registry of sexual offenders to see if your boss is on it? jk - c'mon, people, IT'S A JOKE!

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBI Fan

Rape can be funny, if zombies, robots or clowns are involved.

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMyysterio

I've been reading these comics for ages now, and never really felt the need to write, but bla bla bla. Maybe my reading of "get off" is unique, but I saw it as mullet man doing something incredibly gauche and un-sexy during the act, for example, a wet willy misinterpreted as an act of erotic enticement. Then the unfortunate lady would be saying "get off, get off" without implying a rejection of the entire act per se. In the main, I find it so unlikely that a transparently liberal and "right on" cartoonist with a large readership would start with random "rape jokes" that it would never have occurred to me. It demonstrates that you don't have to have a sense of humour to enjoy the work of someone who does, and that there are always people who will exert themselves to to find offence.

Oh, and the word shrieking is commonly used as an exaggerated description of heated annoyance that it doesn't really deserve defending. A moment or two of thought might be more constructive than OMG SCOTT MADE RAEP JOKEZ. You can interpret something to infer the worst about a person, and assume that everyone is a racist/sexist/hate criminal who will slip up eventually, when they will be arrested by properly authorised members of the morality police, this is one way to view the world. On the other hand, you can assume that most people don't revel in rape and torture, until they prove you wrong. It's your choice. The second choice saves your blood pressure, and makes your internets a nicer, pine-fresh place to be.

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChavesque

I find it hilarious that people ignore the fact that I said that I laughed at the comic, that I was a fan who'd bought the book, and that I was only really responding to the moronic comments, in their rush to... defend something that either doesn't need defending, or doesn't deserve it, I'm not sure which.

I was never saying that the comic was supporting rape. Presumably, none of think would think it was funny if someone were REALLY beaten with a two-by-four, right? Yet we all laugh at the comic's logo. I don't think any subject is off-limits for a humor writer. But the fact that Scott wasn't intending to write about rape, yet blundered into depicting a situation that many of us recognized as such, shows a lack of understanding about the issues involved... though, AGAIN, the attitudes here in the comments are much worse.

I actually tried for two days to leave a comment explaining the context - the current infuriating debate over "gray rape," standards of consent, and so on - but no matter how I rephrased it, the comment "looked like spam" which is really upsetting. These commenters are a group of people who BADLY need to hear that the majority of rapes are not attacks by strangers in dark alleys, but are situations that look a LOT like the comic. Especially the person who tried to tell me in the first comment thread that if the woman consented initially, she did not have the right to stop. And these are the people Scott thanks for coming to his defense. Frankly, Mr. Meyer, I think you could do without them.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHazel

Yeah, I was a bit put off by the original comic as it seemed to be crossing the line, but not to the point where I was angry or offended by Scott, and I just kind of meant my comment as a, `you may want to rethink that' way. It doesn't surprise me that he/you (hi Scott) didn't intend that connotation.

Sorry if it seemed like I was attacking him. And more especially, I’m really sorry for accusing you of joking about such things (since I did leave that possibility open in my comment and didn't blankly assume innocence on your part. I don't really know you; I’ve only read some of your comics.)

But the connotation is there and has nothing to do with people `reading into things' or `wanting to be offended' or saying more about `the reader than it does the joke' like some other commentators are implying. Like it or not (regardless of Scott’s intention) there is no grey area in the depicted situation and the Mullet Haired Boss would almost certainly be convicted if the woman (not) shown in the scene (or any of the other implied woman) ever put the evidence before the court. And I'm only saying `almost' because I can only speak for the laws and not all judges interpretations of said laws. That said, he’d probably get the minimum penalty. There is such a thing as degree of severity of a crime, and calling a spade a spade in no way ignores the condition that many (if not most; I have insignificant information to accurately judge) instances of legal rape are more traumatic/violent/horrible than the scene depicted.

So, unfortunate incident that’s now over. I only comment again in the interest of clarity and acknowledging your grace and the thoughtful manner you’ve dealt with the flack/feedback.

E.

There's no clause in any of the major english speaking countries I'm aware of that excuse the accused for being an idiot and not understanding what the woman was telling him.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEarlofthercs

Jesus F-ing Christ whats with all the bitching about it being a rape joke or not, its not his fault if you guys misread it morons. its a fricking WEBCOMMIC! get over it already its not like that hapened in real life.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM

I read it as someone having a not-very-exciting sexual encounter. OMG!!! I just realized that under that definition I've been raped several times.

Keep up the funnies Scott. Remember this: "This too shall pass."

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSeth

What I am truly impressed by in all of this is the power of the Internet. How else would the delicate and easily offended ever find Basic Instructions?

Try not to worry about it too much, Scott. If you shake enough trees you are bound to find a few nuts.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRay

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